News Off the Ball

Sunday 21 September 2014

Maybe it's all Trap's fault, but international football just leaves me cold

Donny Mahoney

Published 05/03/2014 | 02:30

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10 September 2013; Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni before the game. 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Group C, Austria v Republic of Ireland, Ernst Happel Stadion, Vienna, Austria. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni before the game

I was having a word with this paper's football correspondent Daniel McDonnell as he was leaving OTB towers Monday night. He was discussing his enduring love for international football as Martin O'Neill prepares for his third gig as Ireland gaffer tonight.

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I was surprised; I no longer share his passion. Maybe it's just the scars of the last decade of watching the Boys in Green or perhaps Ireland's exclusion from June's big samba party in Brazil, but I've begun to loathe international football.

Serbia roll into the Aviva and it's all set up for an evenly fought 1-1 draw with a few eye-catching individual flourishes, the odd flare in the crowd and 90 minutes of pedestrian football starring 22 men trying their hardest not to injure themselves.

DELUDED

I'd deluded myself into thinking it was a symptom of Giovanni Trapattoni's iron fist, but Ireland's 0-0 draw in Poznan in November was one of the most forgettable matches of football ever played.

In fact, outside of Germany and Spain, there's a malaise across Europe: France and Holland are riven by division, Portugal surprisingly dour and England under Roy Hodgson too anodyne to even inspire a negative reaction. Only Belgium give me hope, and can you ever really have much hope for Belgium?

So what then for the World Cup? I am putting my faith in South American countries – Columbia, Chile, Uruguay – to inject the anarchic soul of their continent's football into the tournament, and woo me back to international football.

Irish Independent

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